Written by Alex Wilson and Lasse Boehm.
Russia remains Europe’s largest supplier of coal, oil, and gas. This poses a particular difficulty for the EU and its Member States, which are urgently seeking to reduce their energy dependence. This is not only necessary to pressure Russia economically to end its invasion of Ukraine, but also to prevent Russia from weaponising its energy supplies and threatening Europe’s energy security in future.
Replacing Russian natural gas will be much more difficult than replacing oil and coal, due to differences in supply infrastructure, transportation and storage. While part of the long-term solution lies in the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency savings, the EU will nevertheless require large volumes of natural gas imports in the short and medium term.
Since most of Europe’s pipeline infrastructure is organised to import Russian gas, alternative supplies will mostly have to come by sea in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). To guarantee security of supply, the EU will also need to ensure gas storage levels remain high so Member States can cope with a sudden interruption of gas supplies. However, both LNG terminals and gas storage capacity are unevenly spread across Europe, with important policy implications.
There is a clear need to frontload investment to diversify supplies and fill storage, but uncertainty as to who can or should finance these changes. There is also the question of how to coordinate policy action at EU level, how to buffer against negative social and economic consequences, and how to ensure coherence of security of supply with the ‘fit for 55’ package and the European Green Deal.
Read the complete briefing on ‘EU gas storage and LNG capacity as responses to the war in Ukraine‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.